By Hrach Melkumian
Romanian President Ion Iliescu held talks on Wednesday with his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on the first day of an official visit to Armenia dominated by economic issues.
The visit was originally scheduled for October 8-9. But was postponed just hours after the start of US air strikes on Afghanistan.
Speaking at a joint news conference, the two leaders said they agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between their countries. Kocharian stressed a “high level of mutual understanding on the entire spectrum of issues” discussed at the Romanian-Armenian summit, the fifth such meeting in ten years. He also praised official Bucharest for its handling of Romanian’s rotating presidency in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Iliescu said Romania wants to deepen its commercial ties with all three countries of the South Caucasus and is, in particular, keenly interested in the development of transport corridors linking the region to Europe. He said Bucharest looks forward to the settlement of the conflicts in the Caucasus.
Romania plays a major role in the European Union’s TRACECA project to revive ancient trade routes between Europe and Central Asia. Romania and Georgia operate a regular ferry link between their Black Sea ports of Constanta and Batumi. Officials say 70 percent of cargos are transported to and from Armenia.
One of the three agreements signed by Iliescu and Kocharian is aimed at simplifying customs procedures in bilateral trade.